The Pasadena Health Department will recommend the city in effect undo its ban on the cultivation and delivery of medical marijuana during Thursday’s Economic Development & Technology Committee meeting, but the Department continues to favor restricting dispensaries and marijuana cultivation.
According to the Committee’s agenda report, the Health Department is asking the Council to direct the City Attorney to prepare an amendment to the City’s Municipal Code to allow for delivery of medical marijuana in the City by State licensed agents.
“Because there are benefits to legitimately prescribed medical marijuana, we would recommend that, in order to ensure access for those legitimate purposes, the ordinance be amended to allow delivery services under the state license program,” said Michael Johnson, Pasadena’s Public Health Director.
Last November, Pasadena’s City Council approved new laws that prohibit the cultivation and delivery of medical marijuana within the city, according to the memo.
Pasadena first moved to make the ban after Governor Jerry Brown passed a series of bills known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act last October which handed control of medical marijuana laws to localities.
If cities did not move to pass local regulations, they could have lose their ability to do so in the future, according to AB 243, which stated that localities had until March 2016 to make their own laws pertaining to medical marijuana.
In May, Pasadena’s City Clerk received a notice that a petition was circulating called the “Pasadena Compassionate Medical Use Act Initiative.” Though it has not yet been qualified for the ballot, it seeks to once again allow the establishment and regulation of dispensaries within the city, according to the memo.
Councilmember Victor Gordo of Pasadena’s 5th District said that he and the city must be proactive about this situation rather than reactive.
“In light of the potential change in state law, we have to look closely at the municipal code and ensure that Pasadena is prepared to responsibly give effect to any changes in the law that may occur,” Gordo said. “I’m going to listen carefully to the staff’s argument in support of the recommendation and any input by the public.”
Due to crimes and other illegal activities associated with dispensaries in Pasadena — which are only allowed to operate if they opened up before the passing of Brown’s bill — the health department does not recommend letting new ones open. However, they advise allowing delivery within Pasadena so individuals who have obtained valid licenses by doctors can receive their medicine.
However, Proposition 64 — which would allow California to regulate the recreational use of marijuana — has qualified for November’s upcoming ballot and could impact Pasadena City’s current marijuana ordinances.
Gordo said he hopes the citizens of Pasadena will come to meetings and weigh in on the issue of marijuana and how it could affect the city.
“The marijuana issue is going to present challenges, there’s no question in my mind about that,” Gordo said. “It presents issues of public safety and medicine. It will present serious issues for the City Council and the city to grapple with, and I’m hoping people will come and weigh in.”
Johnson mirrored Gordo’s concerns about the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“The discussion about the recreational program opens up concerns about abuse and loss of progress we’ve made in smoke-free environments, there’s an entirely separate set of concerns that come with that.” Johnson said.
The EdTech meeting will take place on September 15 at 8:00 a.m. in Council Conference Room S246 of Pasadena City Hall located at 100 North Garfield Avenue.